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William Seale News/Business. (2013) William Seale discusses the lives of first ladies, from Martha Washington to Ida McKinley.

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Washington 15, Mrs. Harrison 6, Tyler 5, Nd 5, Abigail Adams 5, Harriet Lane 4, Henry Clay 4, Johnson 3, Wilson 3, Harriet 3, Jackson 3, Benny 3, New York 3, Mississippi 3, Cleveland 3, Howell 2, John Quincy 2, Jeff Davis 2, Truman 2, Harrison 2,
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  CSPAN    Q A    William Seale  News/Business.  (2013) William Seale  
   discusses the lives of first ladies, from Martha Washington to Ida...  

    August 4, 2013
    11:00 - 12:01am EDT  

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>> this week on "q&a," presidential historian and seale discusses first ladies, influence and image. >> bill seale, who has the having on in history as kept the best of the white house. >> kept as a place to live, as a residence? > you know, well groomed and all that? -- yeah, i would say ms. theodore roosevelt.
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it was fresh, it had been done remodelled to a more formal modern setting. it was fresh and it was run like a marine camp, the white house was. everybody knew his job and everybody did it. men and women. on all levels. and it was spit and polish. got the reputation for running the worst? >> the worst white house? hmm. worstr think of it as the white house. the complainer was mrs. harrison. mrs. kerry harrison. she was found in terrible it a lot.and disliked tructurally it was bad and the walls were in bad shape. and actually after the franklin , the roosevelts went out, the trumans went to a beat up house.
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taken loads of furniture by the roosevelts. their possessions. there were white squares where wallpaper where pictures had been -- you know, 13 years. that was-- that was -- pretty run down. that's not why truman remodelled though.e, no president has time to take off and do the house over. requirement for him. basis security was the of this. with truman. not the fact that it was shabby. all he secret service and of a sudden it's too dangerous. this is the wood primarily inside with the lamp and all that, one fire bomb could ignite it. truman was presented with a report that had been done a week or two after pearl harbor when they begged roosevelt to leave. houses, i ove old will not. it was the safety of the president. nd when it was finished and truman finished his remodelling
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in 1952, it was the safest house in the world. concrete blocks. it was steal. was a cage and steel and the old walls were preserved new.he inside was all bombs could go off and nothing, they thought, would happen. technology se, bomb has made that passe. lady was the most intelligent? >> there were a lot of those. boy, you get me on these thing mgs. you really do. sense?n in the learning to return to ave ms. theodore roosevelt. appier in a book than anywhere in the world. she was a bookish intellectual oman and there had been people like that before, mrs. fillmore
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was such a person. and, as a bookish woman again, mrs. harrison that no one has ever heard of anymore. mrs. harrison was a very smart individual and also astute.lly > now, one of the reasons we asked you these questions because you were involved with -span with the first lady series going every monday night at 9:00. however, there's a summer hiatus really restarted september 9. we've done 16 programs so far. doesn't matter what era. could be before or after -- the iw programs will start up and think there's another 19 programs to it. what are the milestone years for ladies through history? well, i would say certainly adams. mrs. the first woman to live in the white house. lady, capable lady.
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more social sign. the medicine and the mellow of the burning of the house. first ladies but there to a period where really aren't many first ladies. there toake it up from harriet lane, president buchanan's niece. white house -- everyone would remember some of the old people here in the 20th century that was the grandest white house that had ever happened. girl, the uncle was he dad, the uncle was the administer to great britain and at 15 and hostess she came back to the white house and knew what she wanted it to be. single, 25, 26 years old. it was quite splendid on the eve of the civil war with all of the drama that went with that.
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>> never married. >> no. the niece and nephew. harriet and buck. they raise them? >> their parents died. they took them in. he is often cited as one of the worst in american history. them all, how te did that track at the time? >> lincoln didn't think so. incoln very much appreciated his holding the union together until the next administration could take over. he was a brilliant diplomat. sometimes that's not appreciated president, i think, the administrator or everybody sees that. is another matter. and he was a fine diplomat. talented diplomat. an older man when he took office and kind of a celebrity. eople thought he would bring peace or more even life than s had been a 1850 terrible decade.
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much. t he could but not >> which first lady in history dinner u like to have with? >> here i go again. probably mrs. roosevelt. edith roosevelt. veelts wife? >> sure. >> why? tremendously was good company and dolly madison was good company. eisenhower was good company. no one forgot a dinner with her. that? is >> she was giddy-yap and fun and made people laugh and had feeling good. mrs. lyndon johnson whom i have a charming ith is person. you knew her well. and she's a charming person to too.ith but a woman who's made it through that much to get there to have some charm. almost any of them i would take. might be a little scared of
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mrs. lincoln. make goode rest would company. >> video clips of white houses and first ladies and all of that. presidents and the first one professor of the american university. and he did a book on the history house. ks in the white >> yes. >> this is a q&a for a couple of ago about the martha it upgton's slave -- pick at the end. >> she found out early 1796 that washington was planning to give her away as a wedding gift. uring slavery, slaves were given away. this was upsetting for her. died, they they would free individuals who were
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slave to them. hoped down the road she would be out of the institution. but if she's going to be given away, that meant her whole life was going to be in slavery. going make plans to escape. she writes, she talks about evening, late spring, 1796 while the washingtons were dinner table waiting for her to serve them, she went out the back door. know, she say, you scaped, we don't like it, but alone.eave it george decides to kidnap her. they send a nephew back to which was actually fairly common. >> how many stories in history slaves in the white house? >> many stories. there were african-americans in the hite house, except james buchanan administration
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northerners and southerners would act rude. they brought in irish and english servants. the only time that happened. hercules, left washington compound there in was not never d found again. they think he was in new york. they don't know. not a lot of effort was made to find it. little trouble in the washington house about his slaves and hers. he freed his. she didn't free hers. o she may have agitated him to go after this lady. i don't know, i don't know this story. it's the story of the white house. >> how often did someone give a you're reading about for a wedding gift? >> all the time, yeah, all the time. received a ndmother
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slave who was her age as a ann tobe.esent named and they were together the rest f their lives, even after the civil war. always. they were hand-in-glove. a short died within time of each other. that's not an unusual story. that's in east texas. >> great grandmother. skip a generation. i was a late child. your much of that was in family. >> slave s? >> lots of them. it?ave you ever studied >> as much as i can. as much as i can find out, i have. i've been interested in it. i've been interested in african-american history from point of view of coming through that period. what you can find. you would think it's a blank wall. there isn't at all. all manner is to dig deeper, dig deeper. i enjoyed that with the white house. of course, the white house is
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built by african-american slaves and often an arrangement would be made that the master could be aid back in the wages and the man could be freed and get the education from the skilled european workers. but they t like it, thought they were giving their nstruction away and creating competition. it was there and all through the taff has been african-american or mixed with african-americans. stewart of the white house was of course african-american, william slade. bonded because of the things of value in the house. responsibility. and he was there under lincoln. he was there under johnson. he died under johnson. >> sara martin of the historical society has a comment here about abigail adams and we'll see what we want to add to this. the ladies letter is letter everyone knows and
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associates with abigail adams. what is lesser known and what is the letter is ut that the remember the ladies comment comes quite far down in letter and the first section letter to joan is -- it's questioning and voicing her role ns about virginia's in the revolutionary war. > your favorite story about abigail adams. when you hear that, what's your reaction? >> she complained constantly south to ot down washington as nothing is as efficient as it was supposed to be. comments -- and the two new englanders could do the work southerners.e amused me f thing with her.
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it's interesting about the new england, s that's still a question of historians. johns or green in hopkins, most involved the liberties came in the assemblies virginia. but it's an argument about where it came from. the principles that the on. tries are based >> what do you think of that statement, did it have any early 1800s. the >> i don't think so. that -- it's a personal letter. that the ws, i think, issue was there. and it always had been there women's rights. in maryland, the lady i forget stood up to her rights to do business in the man. business up the manager for the governor of
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maryland. nd mistress brant, she was like, 1600, 1700, and it comes up again and again. theyights women had, which did not have in the east. ut as you move west in the state constitutions is more and more and more rights, property rights. that's the basis in the law. any right in the law, the other stuff rises from that which it did all through the century. and it affects the white house. resident taft was the first who -- well, i'd say harrison is the first who introduced the more participating presence of women. taft was very much in sympathy of the day before wood row wilson's inauguration. it was a great parade. thousands of women marched down the street. them, lson had betrayed you know, he used them and idn't support them and the suffragettes, the women's
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rights -- national woman's party glamour girl named ines bohand, a white horse and a toga floating on the end. went.ft women the wilson women did not. the taft women went. erupted into a horrible thing of men running the women, ting up punching them. it was an ugly scene. by the as supported tafts. president taft is always in rights. women's >> what did the adamses do. ohn quincy adams about their wives and african-americans and the white house. did they use slaves in the white house? >> no. unless there's something they don't know about that were hired. only ones in he the early years that didn't use slaves? monroe did. he used slaves. from the white house, as a matter of fact.
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some of the staffs in and around are trained to do all of the things that needed to be done in the place like silver, china, food, decor, all of that. they were hired all through the the white house to do that. >> clarence, one more -- this is dolly madison, this has to do with slaves. fell on hard times. it's very different from the day when someone leaves the presidency, they're pretty much guaranteed, you know, somewhat ecurity for the rest of their life. but that really wasn't the case during the period. and her r friends family basically abandoned her. she had -- she felt some ng, he compassion, some human compassion. memoirs, he his would visit her, he would bring her food. give her money when he
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had it. by that period, the or so.d dolly madison is up there in age. to look after her. so he writes that he did what he had.d, what he nd he actually became somewhat successful once he bought his freedom. cole jennings is what he's talking about. was a gentleman. he was raised in the house with the family. he as the body servant, as used to call it. slept in the room with james madison. >> slave? >> yeah. he was of the family. mrs. madison would haven't sold anything or anybody. rotten son by s her first marriage. and i don't know what ever happened to him. and used romising boy to be invited by jefferson to dine at the white house and all. wrong somewhere and
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really a runk and a character. he would sell anything she had. the iaries of madison, famous diaries that were illegally kept, henry clay and congress ster got the to pay her $25,000 for it. that was a year's salary for a president. it in a un through minute. she let him do anything. paul he one that sold jennings to the slave trader, that's the worst part of it all. goes on. the slave traders he brought suki, her maid in that she had been with forever was with her in the white house flight was sold and other house servants and a man man -- a friend was there and he said it was horrible. they looked like frightened doves. mrs. madison, her son just had
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power over them. that's how that ended, a story.e >> who in history that had laves gets a gold star for freeing them. really, really freeing them. when they they died, died. seems like all of the stories they can go free. >> general grant dipped. >> general grant did the same thing? the slave and he freed him. >> before. >> before. yeah. >> anybody else. the other question is where did we get the idea that all men are created equal in a society like this. how are they dealing with it from what you can tell? >> there are other people who do that far better than me. it's the racial distinction. black people were highly identifiable. and i think that people were the fact accept that -- or accept as a fact that they were inferior. latin america, of course.
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isabella -- queen isabella the indians all of were human beings and that they were not to be treated badly even if they were. a curse that runs through history. and is being rectified. a long time. >> louise saah katherine adams, quincy adams' wife. >> what a pain in the neck. she was beautifully educated, raised in england, married to a merchant. a merchant named johnson. and she and john quincy married. a stiff upper lip guy who had been pushed into the diplomatic service by his teenager. a and he was a very unbending haracter, but, of course, a greatly moral character. a good politician. and she -- she spent half of her didn't love her and complaining about things and
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et apparently a gracious, lovely hostess. she was musical and all. but she wrote a long strange in the white house telling how her husband had never loved her. >> who saw that? i don't know. it was in her -- it's in her papers. -- she's -- a strange neurotic sort of a woman. >> what do you think he would been like personally? >> he would have been a bear. she would have had to have loved him a lot. because she was very strict and particular about everything. interests. his you read his diary, he partitioned his day and that's worked. he gardened, did state department sometimes. creek swimming in the sometime at a certain time -- 6:00 in the morning. way he lived. there were no soft edges to him. edges. had lots of soft adamse is caroline at the national historical park, a
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about there, talking louisa katherine adams. this housebrought to to meet her father and mother-in-law. would moment she write -- had i stepped on to noah's ark, i could not have more utterly astonished. she had a challenge in winning over abigail adams. adams was easy. he took to her right away. comfortable with him and well liked by him. bigail was more skeptical, perhaps due to john quincy's teasering. a little ve abigail information about louisa katherine and wasn't forthright intentions. it's a surprise that he married so quickly and abigail did not get a chance to her. she was quite concerned that she had never stepped foot on soil. an >> they like that the theodore
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roosevelts were married in london. country.his but i think abigail adams is old then, older. bossy was sort of a lady. she was one of the people wanted and her family. she had bad repercussions from it. boy, charles, died an alcoholic and left a little girl raise.r to she was a controlling individual. and i would imagine she would want to have all of the facts saw the lady. >> tell me the something about rachel jackson before marsha mullen. to the white ent house as first lady. she died in december before -- election.son's but before the inauguration and she said she never went to washington. though she had been to washington many times. lived under the shadow of political use of the marriage.f their
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they probably weren't married legally. married to another man. they ran away to the natchez-mississippi area, the territory. and lived together and later claimed they were married. campaign, it became a real issue and jackson never got over it because he said it ultimately. all her life, she was embarrassed by it. she was a pioneer woman, she a pipe, a corn cob pipe. and was a very excellent plantation manager. the public side of things, no. and she was very, very hurt by it. now, judge overton, the best riend of the family, wrote an essay about the scandal of the not being married because they did remarry. advised them to marry when jackson became famous and that tennessee. the whole detail.
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he gets up. goes to mississippi, to natchez. say, they were married. he wouldn't go any further than that. >> what did andrew jackson do the rest of his term? two terms, really? as far as the first lady? hostess? wife's niece for the second administration. he died in the second administration. she was popular. but she left over the flutter of the margaret o'neill scandal of very loose he -- a morals -- known for loose morals. he married a member of the the indian expert. the women would not notably john calhoun's huffy wife and would not accept her. she had authority. her political position was -- the women wouldn't call on her receive her.
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it became an ugly thing. jackson apeers to have paralleled this with his wife's treatment. not treated was like that in washington. peggy was not a very nice person. curator at the herm taj outside of nashville. is a letter that jackson wrote on the day that rachel 22, lly died, december 1828. he's writing to his friend, richard keith call. the letter, he describes the on set of rachael's illness, her illness. and he says that she was a few suddenly violently attacked with pains in her left breast and such was the contraction of the breast was suffocation apprehended -- i mean, it was serious was in very condition. but he talks about getting ready
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to go to washington like he's better and 'll get off we'll go. but she did pass away later in the day. history -- especially in the first half of the series, -- an enormous of health problems. did anyone escape? tough as a o be a boot to make it in those days. you could take a whole body bath and die two days later. they didn't do that except for in the summer. careful.ere a went to the apocathary, drugstore, they would buy things to make a medicine. few patents. in the 19th cent rip, health is always a big concern. the's why the presidents in early days all left in the summertime. they left in the end of june and somewhere else. home, sometime, if they were as most were.
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was the only one who stayed. day heamed his death the left the white house, a white marsh that gave off a gas. white house was sed up on a podium. there was a stone wall and made level behind it. a drop of 12 or 15 feet. it was marshy. he fog jefferson describes looking out the window at it and how evil it was and poisonous. stayed because of that except pope and then he died. >>. termer died at age 53. what was sara childress polk like? a very, very smart astute woman who got what she wanted looked at it. she got what she wanted. to serve o washington her job as first lady, do the
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things she believed. allowing dancing or -- becauseol that is booze dolly madison introduced whisky punch in washington. just love that. but she allowed wine at the white house but no more punch. that stopped. nd she asserted herself definitely in washington. she had been a help mate to him. quiet a quiet man, a very man, very smart. she sort of ran interference for him, i think. all of their young married life and on. over the years, any arranged marriages among the first ladies and presidents? >> not that i can recall to mind right now. s an arranged marriage the parents getting together and saying, or a deal being made. no. i don't know of anything. >> sort out the john tyler -- what -- how many kids? oh, gosh.
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i think eight. i'm not sure. he was having him clear up to the civil war. >> two families. >> two families. wife, leticia was ill linger iing hose illnesses. she did come to the white house. in the white house. not long after, she married one good friends, 's a young woman in the 20s. they had quite an elegant two as president and first lady. a funny letter that her -- julia, the wife's sister writes her. and she said, you spend so much when ugging and kissing you should be making hay for your family. grandson, the grandson of tyler. do you know him? >> yes, i do. this is for the series. >> her father was up there. fell in behind her going up to the steps to the
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deck. out, looked back calling don't let ms. gardner find out her father is dead. she heard that, my grandmother fainted right back to the arms of the president. her tenderly and gently. she did go and docked and when picked her up and carried down the gangplank. and as nay were going down the gangplank, she came to. later she wrote her mother sailing the first thing sheer was going down the gangplank in the arms of the and dent and she struggled her head had fell over to the quick of his arm and she could in his eyes. she wrote her mother saying, i realize for the first time that loved me dearly. >> what do you think? >> i love that, tenderly and gently, he caught her. but explain the circumstances of who he's talking about? >> the -- they took the cutter, prince ton out on the river, the did, for a show.
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and dolly madison was there. all of the celebrities were there. fired this enormous annon and it backfired and kills several people. bodies that rolled around on the eastern floor and julia gardner's father. a great tragedy, a terrible happened. it's an ambitious, very lived ive young lady and many, many years. >> how old was she when they married. she's 24.ve i'm not sure. >> he was how old? >> 50 something. and what was the reaction to the country to that? wiere pretty ple happy. it was interesting to people. hostess was the daughter-in-law who was the first actress in the white next. mrs. reagan was but she was the first. got the ad the -- she ga
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gate. over and they acclaimed her appearance at the white house. some people tiddered a little dressed up in a royal manor and stood on a platform at the end of the blue nodded at the guests like queen victoria. of. was made fun but i think it was a very time.ar they entertained practically everyone in the country in the brief two months. and the polks came in and it cheery.s how do you remember all of this. a note near you. >> i don't know. >> do you have great memory. about history, associating it with a place, sometimes they just become layers and you think about them. in the white house is a place that they all passed through.
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>> they're part of a big story. >> you read the two volume series. >> when is the last time you updated it? house. president's at the end of the bush administration. >> people are interested in it, get it. hey >> white house historical association. the web on that. whitehouse.edu. more on tyler. harrison tyler is the grandson tyler. sherwood s proper -- forest, their home, that the presidency.after the >> john tyler's grandson still be alive? >> old man, old, young children. >> here's tyler.
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>> she took henry clay out to dinner. this is a woman without a chaperon, a president's wife, alone, having dinner with henry clay. she didn't mind at all. she wrote her mother a letter priceless.ink is she says, "mother, mr. clay was insulting. when i told him that my husband anted him to vote for the annexation of texas, he said to me, i am right. texas should not be annexed to the union. tyler, i want you to know that i'd rather be right be president. sir, my plied, my dear husband is both." i true think think that the than the lmost better statement from clay which we hear so frequently. having lunch with henry clay. what would that be like? >> well, amazing. very formal. for one thing.
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dining in the family room. of them.two it would have been informal. amusing rteous, a very man to be with. she seems to have been for omeone who hasn't climbed the political ladder and just came in from new york's society which old new member of the sure as ly, i'm charming as it could be in the reportoire, chairs around the and , butlers coming in out. >> over the years, you've told a lot of stories to a lot of the what's the story everybody likes the most? is there such a thing? house, ning of the white the flight of mrs. madison is the one that really turns people on.
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i like mckinley. about rite story is mckinley of all people. president who changed the presidency. awar was h-american going happen. he needed money for it. of the d the speaker house around midnight. they talked and talked and the speaker said write down what you need. he wrote on an old piece of telegraph people, $50 million for defense. two, three days later, the speaker hat it for him which, of the e, put the war in president's hands. and it elevated the president to a level of power he hasn't known since george washington. so the chief executive was fading. presidency was coming. and, of course, poor mckinley theodore and roosevelt was left to traumatize presidency. >> here is debbie schmidt, the
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andover historical society jane pierce. >> jane and franklin were staying in andover because there family. a death in the jane's u.n.ing m, amos lawrence had died. went to boston to have that funeral. they returned to andover where ready tod pack and get move to the white house. unfortunately, the train ride was very devastating for the family. were a mile outside of andover and an axle rod broke on slipped down an embankment. as i understand it, benny was a child. moving about. this is within five minutes of the train ride beginning and when the train rolled down, he in the back of his head very severely. crash.not survive the the services for benny took place at mary akin's house. they went to concord to bury benny. but jane did not attend. she was very grief stricken and could not make it to the final the funeral. jane was very sick most of her
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life. she's been referred to as terbucular and probably died of a lung disease and died at street. >> it's a very sad story. they thought he was just down the hill in the snow. to get him ent down and his cap fell off and the was top of his head crushe crushed. that was the second child, the boy they lops. that.ever got over she became very morose. she wrote letters to him all the time in the white house. the jefferson davises had a little boy. he was 2 years old. she would visit around because job to call.the and she developed an attraction to this child. she would go see him. he brought her out of it to the extent. died.e >> the davis child close?
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>> she just closed up. about nt to ask you more that. jeff davis goes on to be president of the confederacy. a all of timing on this. so close to the davises, was that, what, mississippi? davis was a -- we see him hrough the fog of the confederacy. he was an engineer. made his battle of the battle of monterey and the battle plan general taylor. still studied in history. the first wife was general taylor's daughter. and they eloped. more or less. minnesota.d in and then they -- she died on the honeymoon. >> on the honeymoon? baton s buried near rouge, louisiana of diphtheria
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or -- i don't know, something. there.s buried and then he was all alone on his plantation for a long, long time. who d a wealthy brother kind of kept him in wealth. varina howell d from natchez, mississippi. it's still there. howell was, i hate to say pushy, but she was. very aggressive lady. and wherever she went, everybody knew her. and she was the belle of washington. i mean everybody was -- she was everybody's house and of course the president's too because of the taylors, you know, at first. the taylors. then pearce. and so she was close to everyone. put it washington, if i in modern terminology with the papers we have today in a orting, it would have been sensational thing for this couple leaving on the train to south when the civil war
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began. davis had been very much remodelling of the capitol, which went on at that time. really a fire brand. obsessive as some southerners, but he was a dyed in the wool southerner. lane. mentioned harriet ere's jennifer walton of cleveland up in lebanon, pennsylvania. near lebanon, pennsylvania. but let's watch this. can continue with this. >> harriet lane's life was marked by a tremendous loss. the tragedies beginning earlier in life with the loss of both of parents, several young siblings. she reached adulthood, the loss siblings that also
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reached adulthood with her her wed by the death of beloved uncle and shortly there after, the deaths of the two young sons and her husband, ultimately. you can see here, i have harriet box.s jewelry it would have held trinkets and jewels and lots used in happy and parties and galas. some of them used for more locations when she was grieving. i have pieces of morning jewelry interesting.e very and this first one is a morning locket that contains the head of three of herather, siblings. and it's very unique in that the plo locket closes into the ball. turns, there are glass plates and it's the hair members andr family it's engraved in their name and death. much about death. kids dying and so much. how did they deal with it? >> it was closer to them than us.
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most of us. ed -- several first ladies die in the white house. a number of children died in the white house. >> how many first ladies? do you remember? mrs. harrison. wood row wilson. >> first wife. >> mrs. tooiler to go back. i believe it's all. they died. it was a major thing. and seems to me one more. of theseou been to all places like wheatland? >> yes, i have. >> and when did you start doing that? >> well, even before i was working on the white house. i was interested in that. and these individuals and how they lived. exceptional s an site to go to. t's a -- it's everything's there. harriet lane was a very wealthy woman. 1917, i died late
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think, it was round lip said she was the most highly respected states.n the united her charity, shep founded the -- he -- harriet lane children's hospital in baltimore. they changed the lane about 25 years ago, be uh still the hospital.s they found the st. almond's chool in memory of her two little boys. >> here in town? >> mm-hmm. he did many, many good workings. she didn't just go into a shell like jane pearce. she -- she was very active and into things and the -- and doing good works. she was a strong woman. a be not a scholar or learned-type woman, ever. but she was a human -- she was a lady. type >> how many first ladies in this irst part of the series were college educated? pope, first -- well, mrs. guess, went through the academy. mrs. -- mrs. harrison?
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mrs. harrison was a -- carrie harrison. benjamin harrison's wife. next the president -- not controversy at all. mary lincoln. edith mail helping with the talk about robert lincoln and his mother. >> she was sewing money and bonds in the hems of her skirt literally g -- carrying them around with her because she was show terrified impoverished. was the final straw for him. but interestingly enough, she testify in wed to her own behalf. and all of the people who made the decisions were men. they got all of these male comers of the community to and testify. about, you know, she's -- she's kind of gone off. and she needs to be institutionalized.
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on -- wasyour verdict she mentally insane? or -- > i think she was mentally -- manic or something like that. they know more about that than me. there was definitely something wrong. not a successful first lady. when you judge first ladies, you harrison and you think of mrs. grant. you think of these people. she just wasn't. was a constantly in controversy. she wrote irresponsibility people.to she was kind of coarse. she was beautifully educated and better, but she would refer asletters to jefferson davis jeff and jeff davis and all that. it doesn't sound quite right for a first lady to do. of course, she lost three sons. in the white house, one before the white house, and one after the white house. todd was left who was like at family and who was a cold as a fish. ice cold. and he offered her no comfort or
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anything. tad had been the one she was so close to. typical thing that happens to widows, maybe the first two years. terrified and being of not having enough money. the man has managed everything. that.e never done and people -- they think people are taking advantage of them. understandable. but they would drag on because they couldn't leave anything. mixed one the white house staff in funny ways. -- and there was a green house attached to the white house. for the son in john nter and a lot of -- gardner got close to her and she was a cook. he got close to her and she would tell him too much and he access to the office and then took one of lincoln's speeches and gave it to another unscrupulous person that she
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associated with. >> quick question on this. a couple more when we finished. robert todd lincoln and abraham lincoln ii are buried here. the entire family is in springfield. >> in springfield. >> why did he stay away from the family? >> i don't know. i don't know at all. that tomb was robbed, as you know. and maybe he didn't want any part of it. i don't know. he's not there. associated with washington. he lived here in georgetown. annette dunlap, historical author talking about frances cleveland. >> you have some language called them beauty in the beach because him and he was, you know, 47, he was 49. he was portly. necessarily the handsomest man in the world. and she was an absolute stunner. eyes, tall for
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that age. very, very good looking. there were people who thought that there was something that was strange about it. part, because t they fell immediately in love with her, they kind of accepted the package.f >> okay, how did this happen? >> they were 20 years apart or more. her since she was born. she was the child of his business partner. it was his ward. they were very much in love with each other, very much. and he was protective of her in sort of way. he couldn't stand the press and her, she was all over the press. she was the first lady who really was there all the time. there all the time, always favorable. he was clever politically and she was witty. in between.term he served one term, stayed out, served another. moved to new york, she was the belle of the city.
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artists, everybody crowded around her. she's witty, fun to be with, and pretty. way.ad a political state visitor, ula lee of spain who came to open the world's pearls that went from her neck to the floor the ize of robins eggs and the tiara.ds and the and mrs. cleveland wore a white a wedding band and was the winner. >> came one the idea in the place, talking about ida mckinley. >> he was governor of ohio. he would go to
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the office window and wave the so ida could see across the street. on, ida insisted the hardest thing would be to withdraw from public life. what she wanted. and it led to rather scenes.table we have testimony from william howard taft and others who found next to the tting first lady, traditionally, the president and the first lady be seated in opposite tables or next to each other. the mckinley's sat next to each other. had a seizure, she kpould unobtrusively take a drape it over her face until the seizure ended and might resume in the middle of a sentence where she left off. >> president mckinley was assassinated. what happened after that.
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>> she live about a year. to everyone's surprise, she he was so eak, protective of her, she was as strong as could be during the whole thing. the body in the state funeral in washingtonf and back home to canton, ohio and as strong as she could be. >> did he know the napkin thing in public? state dinners. >> at state dinners. >> frequently. > is there any history about what the reaction was among the people that were there. genteel about it. commented on it, the letters and things. they commented on it. never a scene in state dinner, john crawford and back in time they pulled the sword -- these two, the british and someone else pulled stores across the table. that and joan crawford, i don't
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know of any other incidents. >> you been to a state dinner? >> no, huh-uh. i have -- sorry, i have. clinton. >> you were there. >> and the -- the dinners ladies, which rst was the first lady -- the first met. lady that you >> mrs. nixon. two weeks before he resigned. >> what was that like? >> she was charming. she was interested in having a done about the white house and i was supposed to develop it and get all of the information make it to be accurate. e need to start with the long story. anyhow, she was all for it. in a's what she liked. she was lively and interesting. >> how many others have you met then. >> all of them. i don't know mrs. obama very well. newell other ones i enough, i guess. >> and the reason would be that want to talk about the white house?
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>> either that or they asked me event a talk to some that they were having or that kind of thing. intimacy. have never been "of" an administration. i'm with the white house historical association or on my of coming in ort as a person helping where i can. historical association associated with the white house officially? -- no, no. the white house historical independent.is it does publications. it assumes the interpreting to american house to the people who is a long -- has a long history. jefferson first opened the white in april of 1801. had to be shown as the people's house. project that 200 years. there's a lot they want to know. and particularly the kennedy administration they introduced it in such a way. hat's when the association was founded. what the association does with
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the websites and the films and books is interpret the white house to the american people. and simple nonprofit job. >> a couple of quick questions. the reaction of the white house stopping the tours in this period? >> if they have to protect the theident, they have to stop tours. but i'll tell you, no president wants to stop that. sorry that it had to happen, but they had to protect the president. though, is question, obama obama what they know in the quarters. how often have you been around? >> it happens a lot. and in the earlier period of the oh, the 50s, you never would have gotten in the quarters.raffic never got roosevelts the best. but obama had so little privacy to have the suite of 15, 20 rooms, they know they can go in
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the room and not look at ten people. it's perfectly understandable. > series of first ladies starting up again on september people willou think react -- the first half be registered or the second half of first ladies? > the first half is traditional, more historical, of course. >> what we're sealing. though, because you put the break at the right place where we started to become power.ld that's the theme of the 20th century. you get into what most people from 60s back remember, it will a little -- it's going be hard for you all to edit, i much because it's so footage, so many pictures so, many issues. nd it's hard to judge people immediately. i know there are many books who do. but it's hard to do.
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coming up are you involved in? >> theater roosevelt, franklin taft, all of them. truman. >> we're out of time. >> white house -- >> the white house -- not the hite house historian, but the historian of white house activities all these years, thank you so much for talking with us. >> thank you. >> for a dvd copy, call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts and to give us the comments about the q&a.org. vitz it us at also available
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as c-span pod casts. encore his week, presentations with q&a beginning administrator, charles bolden talking about the xperience as an astronaut and current duties at the largest space agency. on 7:00 p.m. eastern over on c-span 2. max i have been pushing for this . we need to get this done. as hard as it has been for me to say the house is getting something right